$5 Massage, Monthly Rent $250—Welcome to Bali

Just over a year ago, Marie Bell decided it was high time to make a change to her hectic life in Sydney and get away from the fast pace and stress. “My heart had left Australia; I just reached the point where I felt I had to make a move,” explains Marie, 53.

“I put my house on the market and sold it. Six months after making the decision to move to Bali, I put any belongings that I didn’t sell or give away into storage and away I went,” says Marie.

Marie lives on her savings, leaving her super intact for later on. “Of course cost of living factored a lot into my decision to move. I pay about $250 per month for my spacious studio right in the centre of Legian Beach, from where I can walk to almost everywhere I want to go for dining, shopping and entertainment,” says Marie.

“Eating out is two to three times more expensive in Australia than it is here in Bali, plus I love the variety of local food here. A haircut and colour in a salon is $60 in Bali, it would be three times more in Australia. When I want to enjoy a massage, it’s between $5 and $10 depending on the salon,” she says.

Marie’s core area of Legian Beach has everything she needs, but she often goes to Sanur Beach—about 30 minutes away—to meet up with friends. “My taxi ride for the 15-kilometre trip comes to $8 to $10 each direction.

“I really love the friendly Indonesian people so much. My advice to anyone considering a move to Bali is to come with an open mind and to treat the locals with great respect. After all, we are guests and visitors to Indonesia.

“My favourite local café is called Bene Lane,” says Marie. “It’s been one of my favourite experiences since coming to Bali. Bene Lane is known all around the Kuta/Legian area and the food gets top ratings on all the travel websites. The staff all know my name and remember what I like, so every visit is a pleasure. I have a large circle of expat friends who also love to eat there, so there is always someone to meet and have a chat with.”

Marie explains that there are some obstacles to overcome: “A retiree living full-time in Indonesia requires a residence permit called KITAS. I had to follow an application process, engage a visa processing company and pay a fee of $700 to $900 per year.”

In the one year Marie has lived in Bali, she has never encountered any difficulties as a solo woman. “No problem”, says Marie. “It’s been so easy to make new friends. Every day is different—I learn something new about Indonesian culture and customs as well as about other visitors and fellow expats. It’s excitement and serenity all in one package!”

Marie finds plenty of ways to relax and unwind in her new home. “Now that I live here and have all the time to enjoy life, I find I am perfectly happy sitting at home sometimes in air conditioning watching a movie when that mood strikes me. Also, I take trips out of the area to different spots around the island, such as Candidasa Beach, Amed, the adjacent Gili Islands and Ubud, which are very laidback and quiet. Even nearby Canggu has a mix of countryside and rice paddies and a nice lively beach.”

Marie also undertakes interesting work opportunities that pop up from time to time. “Through my network of friends, I was asked to assist in opening a women’s shelter in Jimbaran, which gave a sense of purpose and tremendous satisfaction. Sometimes, I deliver English and customer service training for new employees at a local restaurant, which is great fun. Recently, I got offered a part-time position training new employees for a cruise line and will begin that job soon. All this keeps me busy, provides me some extra money and a lot of satisfaction” explains Marie.

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